As employees get older (and younger), cultural norms shift, and technology advances, workspaces need to evolve. Here’s what you need to know to maintain a modern office through 2020 and beyond.

In today’s modern office, where so much business is done digitally, it’s easy to overlook how physical things like office chairs, desks, and meeting spaces can impact communication and encourage creativity. Entering Q4, many businesses are planning workplace moves, adds, and changes that will best suit their office, people, and customer needs for the next three to five years.

Office workers and businesses who find themselves inside facilities that are ill-equipped to handle modern challenges may be putting their profits and their employees at risk. Given the latest shift away from the open office trend and concerns about worldwide events like climate change, it can be harder than ever for offices to have a plan in place to adequately address these issues when they impact everything from reception areas to company culture.

While some changes to the modern office space might be minor, there are many considerations that can only be handled at a larger scale and require longer-term planning.

Here are some major components to consider as you figure out your future facilities needs and ensure a positive space for your business to thrive.

1. Safety in a Modern Office Is Critical

An August 2019 survey from the American Psychological Association reported that many Americans are experiencing increased stress about mass shootings in public places.

While most Americans are stressed about threats at open spaces, like public events or malls, places of employment are often vulnerable to the same stressors and threats due to the level of access that non-employees receive.

Different types of businesses require different levels of access, but facilities managers looking to respond to this threat might reconsider their office design and layout. Many businesses have created response plans for active shooters, but preparedness doesn’t have to stop with open dialogue and simple conversations.

Technology solutions like cameras, sensors, and alarms are a simple, no-nonsense addition to any modern office for a variety of reasons. While you’ll want to be sure to respect employee privacy, creating new layers of security to protect your organization and your office workers may lower stress and put troubled minds at ease.

2. Sustainability: More Than Recycling

The evidence surrounding climate change is overwhelming, but that’s not the only reason to look at reviewing sustainability standards around your modern office.

The drive for increased sustainability has paved the way for office products which are both environmentally and energy-efficient. Inside the office, basic changes in the work environment, like dynamic LED lighting or energy-efficient heating and cooling can make all the difference in the office overhead and carbon footprint.

The 2017 BIFM Sustainability Survey also points to emerging trends that facility managers should consider. Survey respondents indicated that adapting sustainability principals is good because it helps with resource and cost management (66%), gives businesses the opportunity to meet customer expectations (62%), and allows organizations to align with legislative compliance (57%).

Planning and engaging in conversations around sustainability can help facilities managers push initiatives that create a more efficient office. For businesses looking to upgrade to new facilities in the coming years, focusing on building-wide features like modern insulation and up-to-date electrical systems within the building may account for huge savings beyond the modern office cubicle.

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3. Satisfaction and Quality of Work Life (QWL) Really Matters

There is a big push for quality of work-life improvements in modern office facilities, and there are many reasons for it—participation and productivity among them.

Modern office spaces are an essential component when it comes to employee satisfaction. That’s because office workers spend a large portion of their lives at their desk or in a meeting room.

Perhaps the most fundamental question for anyone looking to encourage creativity, collaboration, and productivity through office design is this: Are office workers really satisfied? Does the current office design meet their needs?

It’s not just about comfort, either. It’s also about data, data, data. As interconnectedness of personal devices and social media brings an abundance of new tools and information flow into the workplace,it poses facilities with the challenge of balancing the security of the business with individual privacy concerns.

If you take it too far and don’t provide employees with a way to access and interact with social media platforms, you may find disgruntled employees. It’s important to ensure that your company culture is flexible enough to accommodate employee professional development needs for a positive workplace environment and maximum worker productivity.

Planning a Bright Future for Your Modern Office

While you probably don’t need flat-screen monitors for every meeting room to create the premier office layout, there’s no doubt that employee needs are evolving, and the list of workplace facilities essentials have changed.

As we’ve discussed, it is more important than ever for businesses to create a safe, attractive and sustainable space. Facilities managers today should also keep current trends in mind when planning ahead.

For example, a recent article from Entrepreneur points to the strong aversion by Millenials and Gen Z to the idea of a cubicle or confined office work space. Your workplace layout must not only consider the needs of newer generations, but also make room for workers remaining in the workforce past retirement age, be immersed in company culture, and provide alternatives to the open office.

Reconfiguring your workspace for what the modern office needs is process that takes time and effort, but it’s an investment that will pay for itself.